In order to let her family and friends know she survived the devastating winds and rains of Hurricane Irma, junior Communications major Jeanne Frances benevolently marked herself as “Safe” on Facebook just over a week after the hurricane left the Central Florida region and dissipated into a tropical depression.
Jeanne, who evacuated to her parents’ house in North Carolina and was never in the direct path of the storm, knew that the act of checking “Safe” on the social media site would bring waves of relief to her hundreds of Facebook friends. She knew her friends and extended family were surely waiting in fevered anticipation to know her status as of the last nine days.
The Facebook Safety Check feature was designed to allow people in an area experiencing an active crisis to share vital information about the situation, let loved ones know if they are safe, and to know which of their friends in the area may require help. These features were of course utterly useless by the time Jeanne got around to using Safety Check early Wednesday morning.
The news that Jeanne was alright came as a great relief to her grandparents, who live in Minneapolis and have never experienced a hurricane.
“I’m so relieved to know our little girl is safe down there,” said Jeanne’s grandmother. “We’ve spent the last week worrying about her; there was no way of knowing if she was alright. We’ve seen her on the Facebook posting pictures of her brunch and sharing those ‘BuzzFeed’ quizzes she likes so much, but that doesn’t tell us if she’s safe. And it’s not like she calls us anymore!”
Jeanne followed up her Safety Check status with pictures of the area around her apartment. The images, which show a couple fallen branches, a bent speed limit sign, and a tipped-over trash can, include captions such as “Lucky to be alive!!” and “Never seen so much destruction in my life!! #blessed”
The record-breaking storm completely flooded the downtown areas of Miami and Jacksonville, and rendered the Caribbean island of Barbuda uninhabitable for the first time in three hundred years.
In response to Jeanne’s safety post, The Florida National Guard called off the search and rescue operation that had been created specifically for her. A spokesperson for the FNG said that now that its 12,000 members aren’t focused solely on Jeanna, they can now focus on recovery efforts for the rest of the state.
In order to save manpower and avoid causing further emotional distress, Jeanne has preemptively marked herself safe for all future hurricanes this season.